Real-Life Stories of BAM at work
Tour Company in South Asia
Mike and Lindsey desired to contribute to the community of a large city in central Asia and live like Jesus. The state made it known that they desired more foreign tourists so Mike and Lindsey started a tour company with an office in the USA and in Asia. In this way they are blessing the community.
Numerous relationships opened up with clients, vendors, tax authorities, neighbors, school families, guides, community leaders and transport companies. The tour company is providing tours and will soon be profitable; they create jobs and open doors to make disciples of Jesus. Recently a business acquaintance of Mike asked if he had a “spiritual connection”. An in-depth conversation insued whereby Mike shared the good news of Jesus.
Factory in East Asia
Joel and Cindy operate a small factory in East Asia which makes sports products for export. While employing more than 20 employees and creating value in the community, they are welcomed by the authorities and have been able to share their faith in a land where no foreign religious workers are allowed. Employees, clients and neighbors have been blessed by Joel and Cindy and several are now followers of Jesus.
One day Joel faced an ethical decision. Should he take on a sales person named Li who worked for a competitor and who wanted to bring his clients with him to Joel’s business? Joel replied that he did not want to do business that way.
Li however saw a Bible on a shelf behind the desk and asked “Are you one of those ‘what do you call ‘ems’?” Joel said, “yes” but there was no further ethical or spiritual discussion.
A week later Li called Joel and wanted to have a spiritual discussion saying he wanted to be an ethical business person like Joel. He was tired of the lies and deceptions which were a part of his current work situation. Where did this end up? After several weeks of talks, Li came to follow Jesus and his principles for life and work.
Clothing Factory in Cambodia
Outlaw Denim in Kampong Cham, about a 3-hour drive northeast of Phnom Penh. It was started seven years ago by James Bartle, an Australian entrepreneur who saw an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of trafficked women through employment and Christian values, while making a profit. He entered the fashion world of denim with a steep learning curve after traveling to Asia to see how the trafficking industry worked and to envision how he could provide a sustainable career path to victimized women.
There is a strong commitment to preparing each of the 50 seamstress employees with all the skills of the factory. Each person learns every aspect – every machine and every detail on a pair of jeans – the denim, the thread, rivets, buttons, belt loops, zippers – all are meticulously and artfully produced and reviewed. The high-end product is no regular jean – with retail prices in North America starting at $195 per jean.
The women take pride in their work and we noted on the finished products, the leather patch had a simple statement under the Outland name, “This jean handcrafted by …… (name of person)”
In late 2018 Duchess Meghan Markle visited Australia wearing a pair of Outland Denim jeans. She too wanted to highlight the important issue of human trafficking and give attention to businesses like Outland Denim who are addressing poverty and joblessness.
I visited Outland Denim in 2018 and was impressed how the owner in Australia and the managers in Cambodia, Caleb and Katie, relied on the importance of prayer, with many stories of how God directed them in creative entrepreneurial ways, as they relied on Him. Certainly, God is blessing this establishment to the “greater glory of God.”
Manufacturing in China
My friend Fred arrived in China thirty years ago with a heart desiring to make a difference. There were easier opportunities to start businesses in those days when compared to today and Fred set about using his artistic abilities to create, manufacture and market appliances for a high-end market.
In less than 20 years he had a sizable factory and over 600 employees. And he had earned the respect of the local communist authorities. Here are some lessons BAM businesses can learn from Fred’s experience.
1. Endeavor to bless the community (Gen. 12: 1-3) communicating with the local authorities so they are proud of you and want you to be there.
2. Be willing to learn from your hosts and master the local language and keep growing in cultural understanding.
3. Set a small window of a few seconds for making a decision about an opportunity. This helped Fred to bring many handicapped and disabled people into the company, something completely unknown in China at the time.
4. Keep the quadruple bottom line always in focus: profit, job creation, making disciples and stewardship of creation. Learn to measure your efforts and set new goals; keep growing.
5. Set Jesus as the CEO of the company and make that known in all you do inside the company and externally.
Hundreds of people have seen Jesus in the life and principles of Fred and have come to faith in Christ. They find their way to house churches and serve God in ways they have been modeled in Fred and other believers in the marketplace.
Restaurants in Cambodia
Jars of Clay is a restaurant with two locations in Phnom Penh and features Cambodian and western menus. It was started in 1998 by a missionary from the UK who dreamed of providing a safe place for helpless women with no life skills. Current owner and manager, Jen came as a 16-year-old rescued young girl. In 2007, the missionary left the sustainable operation in the hands of 8 original girls including Jen.
Today there are two restaurants, one in the Russian market area. There are 30 staff in this independent and sustainable operation. The missionary chose the name “Jars of Clay” from the biblical passage in II Cor. 4:7. The girls physical bodies are like jars of clay, in all shapes and sizes. They are beautiful, unique, functional and house a godly treasure. The ministry exists to bring girls to understand this.
The leadership takes a team approach to helping girls overcome the dysfunction of their trafficked past, provide training, learn who Jesus is, and develop the skills of the restaurant business. Jen emphasized that once healing begins they help them build confidence, leave the past behind without pity for themselves and realize a home in the Jars of Clay family.
Jen sees Jars of Clay as belonging to God and she is a steward for him. The profits are not theirs; they belong to God and they are plowed back into the business for improvements. The graduates of the program often go on to better jobs. One is the director of an NGO, another manages another restaurant. Almost all reintegrate into society and are able to support themselves. Many come to faith in Jesus as their Savior.
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